Disgruntled Bar Owners Smoke Inside, Ask City for Ticket

By Jonathan Cooper | jcooper@kq2.com

Published 06/24 2014 09:19PM

Updated 06/25 2014 09:31AM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Sixteen days after the City of St. Joseph made smoking in public, indoor places illegal, a group of outspoken bar owners decided to break the law.

"If they want to give me a ticket, yeah I'm welcoming a ticket, I'll take the ticket and that's fine," said Marty Kotche, manager of Amnesia Too.

Kotche and Steven Peterman, two men affiliated with competing bars, joined together to protest an ordinance they say is unfair by smoking inside Amnesia Too.

"I'm an American vet myself and you're telling me I lost the freedom of choice," Peterman asked.

At this week's council meeting, Kotche showed pictures to the council of examples he claims break the smoking ordinance.

"If it applies to everybody that's fine," he said. "They're doing it, what I feel, in a discriminating manner."

The first picture Kotchey showed was a four-walled structure adjacent to the Buchanan County courthouse.

It's designated as a smoking area - something not allowed under the ordinance because it is enclosed.

City Manager Bruce Woody says he addressed the issue with county commissioners after seeing the picture.

Kotche is also upset the health department can ban smoking less than 25 feet from their entrance - 20 feet longer than required.

"That particular distance," Woody said. "Has been there before this issue even came up."

Woody said certain buildings like hospitals and doctors offices can require smokers to stay back for health issues.

"We don't plan on having any changes there," he added.

Woody said the transitional period is similar to what other cities with similar ordinances have experienced in the state.

"It takes a little bit of time to transition into the ordinance, but once it's been in effect for awhile, it will largely be enforced by peer pressure," he said.

But for now, Kotche and Peterman say they will continue to fight.

Kotche says he is considering legal action against the city based on the wording of the ordinance.

He did not end up receiving a ticket for smoking inside Monday night, but the St. Joseph Health Department said they will consider talking with him after seeing this story.

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